"Rosa Parks" first through new facility
By Andre Coe
The Montgomery Area Transit System reached a milestone last week when it celebrated its millionth passenger, Roddric Bledsoe, on Thursday.
Today it celebrated another --- the opening of its new downtown intermodal bus facility at 495 Molton Street.
A ceremonial replica of the 1950s "Rosa Parks" bus was first to roll through the air-conditioned facility at 5:15 a.m., said MATS General Manager Kelvin Miller. The second was actually one of the least used -- the No. 8 Gunter route, Miller said.
Bledsoe will be honored in a ceremony Wednesday at the facility where he will receive a yearlong bus pass worth $420.
Ennis Robinson said she was heading home on the No. 4 Boylston bus. She rides because the bus takes her everywhere she needs to go, she said. Her friends ride too.
"I love this," she said. "You don't have to stand outside in the heat and bad weather and you can see your busses coming. ... I just get on the bus and go."
MATS Customer Service Representative Pat Jackson agreed. Before today, she fielded calls from riders at the system's administrative offices located at 2318 W. Fairview Ave. The new location, which has offices for MATS and the city's transportation department, gives her a chance to deal with her customers personally. They typically called to find out when buses would come, she said.
Today they had questions about the snack machines.
"This is something I have been waiting for the last two years," Jackson said. "Just to have Montgomery arrive with this new intermodal system away from the elements."
The three most-traveled routes are the No. 2 Eastdale Mall, No. 10 South Court Street and the No. 12 Smiley Court/Gibbs Village, Miller said. Those three routes combine for an average of nearly 400,000 passenger trips a year, with each route averaging at least 11,000 trips a month and the No. 2 averaging 13,500.
The No. 15 Allendale Road route is among the least used. It makes approximately 1,000 trips a month, Miller said. Routes 7 (Maxwell), 8 (Gunter) and 9 (Virginia Loop) do slightly better. They average about 2,000 trips a month, he said.
Rosa Drake is among the million MATS riders. She catches the bus about two times a week, she said, but if the system keeps "spoiling" her, that might change. "I definitely like this."